Tags: collaboration, content, digital workplace, governance, publishing, standards, usability standards, users
In my last post on the digital workplace I talked about how you need a strategy to help you create a great digital workplace. Remember you’re not just doing this for the sake of it! Your aim is to demonstrate how it will support your organisation’s strategy and key priorities.
Once you have your strategy agreed you need to build a governance framework to help you to implement and manage your digital workplace. It is important all your digital workplace is managed to give the maximum benefit to your organisation, individuals and collectively, everyone. The right level of governance needed will balance the rewards to be gained while avoiding any risks. That doesn’t come naturally but through you establishing a good governance model.
The aim is to create a great online user experience that encourages people to feel comfortable shifting their how and where they work to a digital workplace. To do that you need a governance framework that includes:
You need to have a governance hierarchy that starts at the top with who is responsible for the digital workplace and flows through to who uses the it to publish, collaborate, complete tasks or just view content.
Who is responsible for developing the strategy, implementing the digital workplace and managing it? It is difficult for one person to have the knowledge, experience, and authority needed for so many key roles and activities. Neither is it best for it to be one person.
The best solution is to have a steering group with senior managers from key parts of the business most affected by or have most influence on your digital workplace. These senior managers should have decision-making authority not someone who has to refer back to his/her line manager and delay matters.
There may be dedicated roles for people responsible for collaboration, ways of working, etc., but they should ultimately report in to the steering group. You need to avoid competing groups of people implementing conflicting standards, designs, and ways to use the digital workplace. That gives a confusing and poor experience for anyone using it.
You really need a consistent level of governance across your digital workplace. By consistent I don’t mean the same but what everyone should expect.
People who publish in the digital workplace accredited types of content (policies, news, etc.) need a more rigorous approach is needed than for collaborative content where opinions and views change and require a lighter touch of governance.
People using the digital workplace to view content, complete tasks or share knowledge with each other, expect its look and feel to be similar. Tools can have minimal branding without great costs or customising. Features need to encourage you to use them more such as help links, contact points, with easily laid out and functional designs.
Integrating the different parts of the digital workplace is needed so they are seen as being connected and encourage you to use it more and feel comfortable.
One way to gain consistency is to have standards based on the needs of the organisation, regulation, legal and users. These can be applied appropriately across the digital workplace depending on their use. For accredited content (policies and procedures) you will apply all or most standards. For applications e.g. HR processes, it’s probable that most will apply too. But for collaborative content e.g. opinions, you will apply a lighter touch.
Alternatively you can create standards that only apply to certain information and applications to meet the purpose people need to use it for.
The aim has to be about getting the balance right. You don’t have to be too restrictive and stifle innovation and collaboration. But you can’t to be too loose and inconsistent and risk sensitive information leaking out. It’s not easy but the right balance is critical.
For me, this is the critical goal to aim for. Are you confident using the information and tools in your digital workplace? Does it encourage you to use the digital workplace more?
The answer has to be ‘YES!’ to these questions. Having the right governance framework with standards consistently applied and clear roles and responsibilities are vital to a successful digital workplace.
Tags: best practice, governance, intranet, publishing, standards, usability, usability standards, users
Has your intranet got content littered all over it which isn’t very useful to people needing to use it?
By litter I mean no or little thought has been given by the owner on how people need to have this information presented so it is easy to use. Examples can include:
- Links to documents instead of content on an intranet page
- Poorly worded content that doesn’t make sense
- Poorly constructed content that is hard to follow
- Poorly presented content with the wrong balance of images, text, and video
I wonder how many intranet professionals are nodding their heads as they recognise some of these examples being on their own intranets! Yes, it is irritating and creates a poor user experience.
So, how can you make your intranet look neat and tidy? I recommend you consider these:
- Usability standard that sets out what the user experience should be
- Feedback button so people can report back on bad examples
- Document library for content that has to be shown in its original format (legal document)
- Training for publishers on tone of voice
- Training for publishers on how to ‘write for the web’
- Guidance on use of different media with best practice examples
- Audit content and encourage/persuade/force publishers to publish it following best practice
And you can always contact me if you need more help and advice.
Tags: accessibility, best practice, governance, intranet, publishing, standards, training, usability, value
I have reviewed many intranets and have been amazed at the variety of publishing standards and how they are enforced. These vary from no publishing standards through to everything being locked down depending on the importance of complying with standards. More importantly it is the amount of time, effort, and money that is used to enforce people to comply with the standards when they publish information.
I sometimes think organisations lose the plot and forget to look at the costs being spent for the benefit being gained.
Your intranet needs standards to make sure your organisation complies with business, user, regulatory, and legal requirements in any country it operates in. The best approach is to have ‘smart’ standards that need the minimum time, effort, and cost which achieving the maximum effectiveness and benefits. How many of these questions can you answer “yes” to?
- Do you train your publishers on what your intranet standards?
- Do you also train your publishers on why your intranet has these standards?
- Do you educate and support your publishers with guidance to understand more about your standards?
- Do you embed any of your standards in the publishing templates e.g. branding, navigation menu?
- Do publishers need to comply with your standards before their content is published e.g. images need to have alternative texts before they can be used?
- Do you review content for compliance?
- Do you remind your publishers if their content is non-compliant?
- Do you remove content if no action by your publishers to comply?
- Do you measure how compliant your intranet is?
- Have you measured it more than once?
If you answered “yes” to all these questions then award yourself a gold medal!
If you answered “no” to any of these questions perhaps you had better contact me?
Tags: accessibility, collaboration, governance, intranet, sharepoint 2010, standards, usability standards
How can you do this? Firstly you need to be clear why you have standards. The reasons why usually include:
- Legal: web accessibility, copyright and image rights
- Regulatory: compliance with country and international agreements
- Business: content reviewed regularly and up to date
- Users: content ownership clear, easy to use and find
Your intranet standards need to:
- Improve the overall user experience
- Make people more satisfied
- Increase productivity
- Save costs
- Benefit the business
When using SharePoint 2010 I recommend five standards you must include. These cover the different types of content and tools that you can use with SharePoint 2010 ranging from accredited information through to collaborative discussions.
You need to be clear that all your information is managed and has an owner. Intranet managers need to be able to contact an owner if there is a problem with their content quickly and easily. People need to know who to contact if they need more information not shown or wish to check about anything that has been published. You need to reassure your senior managers that any risk has been removed of non-compliance from information not managed.
Your employees must be confident they are using the most up to date information. You need to clearly show a review date, in line with your information retention policy, for people to see. Your content must be reviewed regularly and be removed if it is no longer needed and out of date.
SharePoint 2010 permissions need to be correctly set so people only see the information they have permission to see. Get these right at an organisation-wide level to save time and effort later. Owners (site administrators) of content can decide at a site level who can have permission to create, edit, as well as view content published.
Your information must be usable and valuable to people using it. Use SharePoint 2010 webparts to create the experience research with people has shown is needed. Train your publishers on ‘tone of voice’ and ‘writing for the web’ to help achieve this. To use the full range of SharePoint 2010 features well you must make it easy for people to share views, discover other people and their skills, find the right information and use what they find with the minimum of effort and time taken.
This is not an optional extra. It is mandatory. You need to go that extra step beyond usable content and make sure your content is accessible to everyone whether they are impaired or not. It needs to meet WCAG 2.0 guidelines. Legal requirements do vary from country to country. For the UK AA level is the current expert recommendation.
What you need to do is check standards are complied with. This can be achieved by using people or outside auditors to check content or better still, if you can afford it, an automated compliance checker tool.
Tags: benefit, best practice, collaboration, digital workplace, engagement, governance, intranet, Mark Morrell, standards, strategy, usability, value
I will be at the IntraTeam 2012 conference in Copenhagen this week presenting on 5 ‘Must Have’ Principles for a Great Digital Workplace and running a workshop on How to Build the Right Governance Model for the Digital Workplace. For Twitter users follow #IEC12.
The digital workplace is a phrase that I have written about before and is becoming more frequently used for intranets that are developing beyond being a traditional communications tool. For me a digital workplace can include:
- employees working from any location (or mobile) as their place of work
- IT infrastructure providing the same or similar experience wherever someone uses the digital workplace
- employees collaborating, searching, and completing tasks as well as reading the latest news
- employees choosing how to do ‘things’ – RSS, mobile, etc. – that help them
- organisations measuring the benefits and encouraging employees to use the digital workplace
I define a digital workplace as ‘work is what you do, not where you go to’. To have a successful digital workplace it is vital organisations have the right strategy, culture, environment and infrastructure to exploit the benefits fully. It needs to become the natural way of working so employees are more effective and productive and your organisation is more efficient and successful.